presentation tips

The business world is becoming more globalised and many adult English-language students want to give better presentations in English. Presenting in a second language is difficult, but doing it successfully is very rewarding. Improving presentation skills takes time, practice and support from teachers and colleagues but here are three key ideas which will help you start progressing from today.

1. The first minute is crucial

If a presentation starts off flat or boring you can quickly lose your audience. The first minute is essential in making a good connection. When teaching presentation skills, we help students develop a variety of techniques to link with the audience. Relevant stories or quotations from famous people are useful. We also like presenters to ask the audience a question which creates a motivation for further listening. Here is an example from a recent workshop we did:

Presenter: “Have you ever found it hard to focus on your priorities? Well today I’m going to share three tips that will help you organise your work”

The question gets the attention of the audience, and the answer motivates them to listen more. A good start!

2. Use signposting language.

A signpost tells you where you are when you are walking or driving somewhere. Signposting language is very similar. It tells the audience where they are while listening to your presentation. Signposting language creates a good flow and structure within a presentation. Below are a few examples of signposting language:

- I have three main points to make today. The first one is this...
- To close, I’d like to tell you a quick story which shows why…
- Thanks for listening, I’m happy to answer any questions you have...

Without signposts it will be difficult for an audience to follow a presentation and notice your key points so it’s really important that you use signposting throughout any presentation.

3. It’s about you, not the PowerPoint!

Visuals and text are an amazing way to support your message but they should be used carefully, so that they have an effect. By using fewer images and less text, the best keynote speakers focus on confident body language and pronunciation so that their message has a real impact.

In our Business Skills Workshops, trainees improve their body language and pronunciation through a range of collaborative, confidence-building activities. We then combine this with a simplified, focused approach to slide design so that presentations become sharper and engaging.